I recently finalized my divorce. I’m glad to be done with it. My ex was hardly the ideal spouse or parent, and I have no regrets about our marriage ending. What I do regret, however, is how I handled one part of the divorce. That’s because I hurt my case considerably by doing something very foolish: I shared information about it on my social media accounts. I’m not sure why I did it. I was upset and wanted to get some amount of “revenge” on my spouse. However, all it ultimately did was hurt my case, a lot. So let me share with you how social media negatively impacted my divorce.
Social Media is Not the Place to Discuss a Relationship or Marriage
The first thing I did wrong was innocent enough: I posted that my spouse had left me, and we were getting a divorce. A lot of my friends responded, assuring me I would definitely be better off. I have to admit, that part felt nice.
The problem was, that one post opened the floodgates. In the weeks to come, friends were constantly posting comments asking me how it was going and sharing their thoughts. And foolishly, I answered them online.
But as I learned, all those comments can be used as evidence against you. at least twice, I posted a comment that started, “My divorce attorney says …” I also said a couple of things about my spouse that weren’t very nice.
Now I understand: During a divorce, NOTHING about your relationship, marriage, or the divorce process should be shared on your social media.
One mistake I did not make: You don’t want to criticize the family law firm you hired, either. The last thing you want when your marriage is strained is to strain the attorney-client relationship.
In a Divorce, You Can Be Guilty by Association
But in divorce court, that didn’t matter. The Texas Family Code states that courts must make custody decisions based on the best interests of the child. Of course, there’s nothing wrong with owning firearms. But my spouse’s attorney had a photo of me looking very irresponsible with weapons, and that had a negative impact on my divorce.
That picture did not cost me the chance to win full custody. But it didn’t help me, either. Read a recent blog about Texas divorce due to family violence.
I also hurt my case totally by accident. One of my friends is an avid gun collector, and shortly after the divorce process had begun, he bought a new gun. I went over to see it, and while I was there, another friend took a selfie of us goofing around with all his guns. It was innocent enough—after all, I don’t even own a gun.
What Your Friends Post Can Negatively Impact Your Divorce, Too
Another thing I did wrong was something I didn’t even do. I know that sounds crazy, but here’s what I mean: After I announced my plans to divorce, one of my single friends commented that when the divorce was done, we would be partying every night and finding some new “companionship.” In addition, a co-worker posted that I should hide our bonus paychecks in a secret account.
Of course, I had no intention of doing any of these things. My days of hard partying about beyond me, and I definitely wasn’t ready to start dating. And I knew it was illegal to hide assets during a divorce. Even so, I foolishly posted comments agreeing with my friends. Like I said, I was angry and just blowing off steam.
But when we got to court, my spouse’s attorney had gathered all those posts as evidence. I planned to present myself as a model parent. The posts talking about partying every night and hooking up with someone undercut that goal. And the suggestion that I might hide money from my spouse did not sit well with the judge at all.
As I said, I didn’t actually do any of this stuff. But in the court’s eyes, it didn’t matter. As my divorce attorney explained, in making custody decisions, the court looks carefully at each parent’s state of mind. And all of that talk, even if it was not serious, did not reflect well on me—again, it’s that “best interest of the child” thing. Read a recent blog on how to win child custody in Texas.
Divorce Is Not the Time for Partying … Or Purchases
But the real way social media negatively impacted my divorce was entirely through my own doing. My spouse moved out immediately after announcing plans to end our marriage. I felt hurt, angry, and betrayed. I wanted to get even. And one way I tried to do that was by having fun on my own.
That might not have been so bad, but I foolishly decided to post it on my social media, so my spouse could see. For example, my friends and I went on a little weekend getaway. We stayed at a hotel, went to the casino, had a few drinks. And because my spouse had taken our good TV, I bought a new big-screen set for the house.
For some reason, I documented all of this on my social media. And every bit of it came back to haunt me.
A Picture is Worth 1,000 Words—And Can Negatively Impact Your Divorce
For example, I had hoped to get a favorable ruling on the alimony. But my spouse’s attorney pointed out that I had gone on a trip, visited a casino, and had a nice, new TV as well. I’m not a super-rich person, but those purchases did not support my argument about the terms of alimony.
My spouse’s lawyer also had all these photos of me having fun. That did not help my plans to talk about the stress and sadness that my spouse had caused by abruptly leaving me.
Another big problem: Our son’s recital was the same weekend I was gone. Of course, I gave my spouse an excuse why I couldn’t be there. So posting the photos of us on our little trip was not very smart. It’s hard to argue that you will be a good, wise parent when you’ve given the other side that kind of evidence.
One mistake I did not make: After I realized that my social media could negatively impact my divorce, I wanted to delete some of my posts. My attorney pointed out that once the divorce litigation has begun, you cannot delete posts or shut down your account. The court can consider this destroying evidence. Read a blog about how the Texas divorce process works.
What I Learned About Social Media Impacting Divorce
You might think I acted pretty foolishly during my divorce. And you would be right. But keep in mind two things: First, I’ve never been through divorce before. So while it’s easy to see now all the mistakes I made, it was different when I was going through it at the time. Also, it was not a happy time. I thought my marriage would be forever. When my spouse ended our marriage so abruptly, it was hard. And I did not handle it as well as I could have.
So now that the divorce is behind me, here are some things I learned about how social media can impact a divorce:
- Your spouse’s attorney will probably go through every bit of your social media looking for evidence to use against you. I saw an article that said more than 80 percent of the divorce attorneys had seen social media presented as evidence.
- Social media posts are never really “private.”
- Posts should not be deleted during the divorce process.
- Avoid using social media to discuss the status of your case.
- Never post anything that is remotely angry or threatening.
- Things your friends’ post about your spouse or divorce also can hurt your case.
- Nothing is really “innocent, either. Passive-aggressive memes and jokes, even inspirational quotes—an attorney may be able to find a way to use them against you.
During a Divorce, Less Social Media Is More
I have one more tip. I suggest you seriously consider stopping all social media activity until the divorce is finalized (just DON’T delete your accounts or posts). If you have any doubts, talking with your divorce attorney.
Time spent on social media can be a waste. And during a divorce, time spent on social media can be costly.
Divorce Attorneys Who Are Knowledgeable in Social Media—and Much More
Social media is only one thing that can negatively impact your divorce. That’s why you will want an experienced family law attorney. We can guide you through a process that can be complex and stressful with compassion and skill. For a no-cost, 30-minute case consultation, contact us today or call 817-668-5879.